I believe I have just found my arch-nemesis. It has arrived not in the form of an axe-wielding, crazed Lumber Jill. Nor a flesh-starved Zombie after my hooligans. Not even a respectable evil, genius mastermind who’s ultimate goal is to take over the world. Wouldn’t THAT be fun?
Nope, my Lex Luther, my Dr. Evil, the Wile E. Coyote to my Road Runner is a plain and simple conversation. But not just ANY conversation. It is very specifically having a conversation with someone that I know is going to lead to tension, anger, or possibly tears. When I find myself facing such a conversation, it hangs over my head like dark storm cloud. My stomach gets twisted into knots, my palms get damp, my mouth gets dry—it’s horrible!
Unfortunately I tend to over analyze what I’m going to say, how to make sure I’m conveying the right message in an effective, efficient, yet kind (if possible) way. Let’s be honest here, I am aware that I spend way too much time in my own head at times, but at the same time, I try not to judge myself for it. Pushing aside that Delores voice in my head (I really hate her) which is screaming that I’m just a lily-livered coward, the fact of the matter is that the reason I dread these conversations so much is I don’t like to upset ANYONE. I detest the idea that I’m going to offend, anger, or possibly hurt someone in my life—anyone. Even people I don’t care for that much.
But here’s where today’s light bulb turned on. It is one thing if I’m intentionally striking out to hurt someone. If I believe that my thoughts and feelings are paramount to everyone else’s then I really need someone to whack me with a reality stick. That is just straight delusional. The other extreme is where I’ve tended to live most of my life—say nothing about anything or anyone. Keep it to myself when I’m bothered, offended, etc by someone’s mistreatment of me. My feelings don’t really matter anyway, right?
While my—or your—feelings may not be MORE important than those of the people around us, they are every bit AS important and valid. It is important to have both a healthy relationship with those we care about, as well as a decent sense of self-respect and self-love. In order to accomplish that, honesty really IS the best policy. But it is about how you say something so much more than just what you are saying. There is a big difference between telling Mary Sue, “I think you’re just being a bitch!” and telling her, “The way you’re treating me is offensive, and here’s why…” One is going to lead to a yelling match, no question about it. The other is actually a little harder to say, because it involves baring your own feelings in a way that COULD be used against you…but if your “friends” use your feelings against you, are they really people you want to associate with anyway?
So today, I’m dreading a conversation I need to have with someone I care about. My gut says that at the end of that conversation, the relationship is going to be inexorably changed, not likely for the “better” but it needs to happen regardless because NOT having it is eating me alive. Not to mention, the fact that there is an elephant on my back has already changed the nature of the relationship. Do I want to do it? Nope. Am I going to? Yep. Because I care enough about myself to know when it’s time to put away my flowery days-of-the-week funderoos, put on the big-girl panties, grow a pair and speak up for myself. Ok, maybe growing a pair and putting on big-girl panties don’t go together, but you catch my drift.
More importantly, I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m going to speak from my heart in a respectful, considerate, yet firm, way. Maybe things will end up better than I think, maybe they won’t. But regardless I will feel better for having done what needed to be done.